I assure you, this is not the case. I actually do work. Sometimes. However, since things have been slow lately, and having just moved to a new place (and thus, new zoos!) I've been doing a lot of photography. And goddamnit, I like the zoo. Three zoo trips in two and a half week is not excessive. I'm an artist, damnit. This is job-related. I get to write zoo trips off on my taxes.
Like today. I went to this place called "Wildlife World Zoo" which is about half an hour out of Phoenix. I wasn't expecting much--the place had a definite Discount Lion Safari air to it, and pulling into a dirt parking lot, as James said "Oh, god, it's a dive!"
Instead, we were pleasantly surprised. They had African wild dogs, maned wolves, muntjac deer, tapirs, rhinos, a huge bird collection, including king vultures, sun vultures, several zillion swans and a vast parrot/conure/lorry array, antelope galore, singing dogs, a very well stocked reptile house, coupla white tigers--in short, quite an extensive collection. Not the prettiest housing I've ever seen--they lacked the space to do the huge Minnesota zoo natural-habitat-style enclosures for tigers, for example--but perfectly functional, and the animals seemed to have plenty of space to hang out in. The money they saved by not paving the parking lot had obviously gone into digging lemur moats and so forth. So that was cool. If it wasn't such a long drive, I'd buy a membership--as it is, I'll probably wait until the fall to go back again, when it's not so hot, and the maned wolves are not a distant lump of fur in the shady bit of their enclosure.
You guys know the drill on these--you want any, drop me a line! Also, while I'm thinking of it--a big thanks to everyone who helped me identify all those mystery birds! We've got a few more mysteries below, although of rather more exotic bent, if anyone's feeling like digging into the really obscure ones.
They had a very well stocked aviary. Unfortunately, they did not have terribly well stocked signs, which means I've got no idea what this guy is. Cute, though.
Same with this guy--I've got a bunch of detailed photos, some with that spectacular fuschia-copper-iridescent thing goin' on, and no notion what it is. (As always, all you birders, if you have any idea, I'd love to hear it!)
This one had enormous, thin toes, and I think I've seen photos of them walking on lily pads. Gallanule? Gallule? I dunno, maybe I'm on crack.
Okay, this one I know--it's a Cape Barren goose. They had 'em in with the muntjac deer, which are cute little fangy deer with weird horns.
This, needless to say, is an African hunting dog. Unfortunately, since I'm sure a lot of people would LOVE close-ups (me included!) this is probably the best shot, and it's at full-size already, so I can't supply any better photos--this is pretty much it, other than some highly blurred shots of its rump, since they were at pretty much the extreme edge of my telephoto and kept moving. Maybe next time...
These spectacular African crested porcupines, however, were up close and personal and utterly adorable. How can you not love that face?
They had a great "Kangaroo walkabout" where we stood about three feet from the nearest roo, seperated only by a token rope. I dunno how safe that was. James wanted to wrestle one, but I convinced him that A) it would be animal cruelty and B) the thing would kick his ass up, down, and sideways. I have learned the lesson from devwitton and crew--cuddly looking Australian animals seem to be uniformly savage, murderous beasts. Even my beloved wombats look like they could mess you up with those claws. My remaining burning question is--why did this roo look so constipated?
And, finally, a really spectacular creature--a Collier's Magpie Jay, from South America. These things were amazing. They looked almost like blue jays, but blue jays that got heavy into glam rock and tail extensions. It was incredible, because the colors are EXACTLY like a blue jay, so every time they'd flap across the cage, complete with crest and foot-long tail, it was a sort of mental holy-crap effect. Very cool.
Slowly, I'm getting better at photographing through wire mesh! Anyway, if anyone wants photos of anything other than the wild dog, or if you're interested in muntjac deer, oryx, kudus, or zebras, just drop a line!
Also, finished the rather more psychedelic coloring job on the turtle-rider, which can be seen at Deviantart! Ack!